There are pivotal times in each of our lives that set us on our path to what we are meant to do. For Stan Law, President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, many of the moments of his life that led him to his career with the YMCA organization had ties to childhood experiences of recognizing that you can make a difference in your own world, in turn changing the lives of others.
Stan Law, a native of Charlotte, NC, came from a family of educators. His grandfather was the President of Johnson C. Smith University, his father a college professor and his mother was a university bookstore manager, so education and the responsibilities that come with it were his foundation. “My parents always impressed upon me the importance of getting an education, and that not everyone was able to have that opportunity. When I was in the 5th grade, I had classmates who didn’t have what I had; they wore the same clothes almost every day to school and weren’t well cared for. We by no means were wealthy, but we had what we needed. I asked my dad why my classmates didn’t have what we had and he took me in the car, just a few streets over from our home, and showed me low-income housing and explained to me that many times the choices you make in life put you in situations where you may not be able to afford things and have the life you’d like. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted not only get a good education, but I wanted to spend my life helping others,” recalled Mr. Law. Other situations setting Stan Law on his path to help people occurred when he was at the YMCA in day camp.
Mr. Law’s summers were spent in the YMCA day camps, where he had valuable experiences. It was those summer memories that influenced his decision to take his first job at the YMCA in his hometown. “I became an Afterschool Counselor at the Harris YMCA, and in my first week reconnected with the man who had been my Camp Director all those years ago, Andy Calhoun, at that time, Branch Director at the Harris Y. It was then I realized that you can make the Y a career. With my degree from Gardner Webb in Social Science, I set out 28 years ago to use the Y as my vehicle to make an impact on the lives of others,” Mr. Lawsaid.
With many roles in various YMCAs across the country, Stan Law grew in his knowledge of the ways the YMCA works within the community, bringing him to his new position of President and CEO of YMCA NWNC. “I knew I always wanted to be the CEO, not for the money or the title, but because I wanted to make a difference in an entire community, not just a single Y or a neighborhood. When the opportunity opened here in Winston-Salem, NC, back in early 2017, I did what my mother taught me. She always said, ‘Don’t pray for what you want, pray for the right thing to happen,’ and I felt that this is the place for my wife of 25 years and me to settle,” commented Mr. Law.
In 2010, the YMCA rebranded itself with the message of “strengthening foundations of community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibilities.”
“The new branding brought the YMCA together with how we serve the communities we’re in; 840 plus YMCAs doing the same work, the same way and not 840 plus different ways. Our focus is on how the YMCA engages in the community we serve. The YMCA has been about relationships from the beginning, and in my 28 years, I have seen generations of families come through the YMCA. While the YMCA continues to meet the needs of our members, from babies to senior adults, we also need to stay open and engage with those in the community who aren’t members, reaching out to them. We focus on the spirit, mind and body of a person; role modeling Christian principles; helping people reach their full potential. We address issues like obesity, education of chronic diseases, literacy and many more on a daily basis. With my passion for helping others, making a difference in lives and reaching those who need assistance in our community, the YMCA is the perfect place for me to do everything that I want to do,” Mr. Law confirmed.